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Microsoft recently announced Windows 10. No, you haven’t been in a coma for three years and you didn’t mysteriously miss Windows 9.
Instead, Microsoft skipped Windows 9 entirely because “It wouldn’t be right to call it Windows 9.” Hmm. Anyways, in less than a year, Microsoft will release Windows 10 and it’s already being advertised (by Microsoft) as “the best Windows yet”.
Here are 5 quick things you should know about Windows 10:
5) Windows 10 features a hybrid Start Menu
Why oh why did Microsoft get rid of the Start Menu in Windows 8? Nobody really knows, but it was probably a bad decision.
In Windows 10, Microsoft is bringing back the Start Menu in all its glory. And now, the Start Menu has some Windows 8-style elements mixed in. You’ll see the same Metro/Modern UI tiles that have become synonymous with Windows 8. But you’ll also be able to customize and (fortunately) remove those tiles as you please.
Personally, I like the new Start menu. It doesn’t look terribly different from the previous menu, and the new live tiles look like they’ll display relevant widget-like information without cluttering up your desktop.
4) Modern UI and Charms Bar are gone
Microsoft, in its infinite wisdom, implemented two controversial features in Windows 8: a Modern UI which featured Windows apps and live tiles, and a Charms Bar which most people only accessed when they accidently scrolled their mouse down the right side of the screen.
Users were forced to boot into the Modern UI platform upon startup. You could not boot into the usual desktop mode. In addition, the Charms Bar made seemingly simple tasks – like shutting down your PC – inexplicably difficult.
Both of these features have been eliminated in Windows 10 (although elements of the Modern UI are now found in the new Start menu).
3) It will run on all Microsoft hardware and unify Microsoft under one OS
One of the coolest parts about Windows 10 is that it is aiming to unify Microsoft under a single OS. Windows 10 is expected to launch on the broadest number of devices ever – including desktop PCs, tablet computers, and Windows Phones.
At the same time, Microsoft will launch a unified app store and make it easier for developers to create software for all Windows platforms at the same time:
“Windows 10 will run on the broadest amount of devices. A tailored experience for each device,” Microsoft Vice President Terry Myerson said at the Windows 10 press conference in San Francisco on September 30. “There will be one way to write a universal application, one store, one way for apps to be discovered purchased and updated across all of these devices.”
That sounds awesome – and it’s a great way for Microsoft to solve its “lack of apps” problem.
2) It’s launching in spring 2015
Expect to see Windows 10 available to consumers by spring 2015. That’s just a few months away, and it’s shorter than Microsoft’s usual development time between operating systems (which is typically three years). If all goes according to plan, Microsoft will release Windows 10 2.5 years after releasing Windows 8.
That shows you how embarrassed Microsoft is about its OS – and how worried the company is that consumers are shying away from Windows 8 laptops and tablets.
1) It’s already usable and available for free
Windows 10 has already been released. Well, sort of. Microsoft has released the Technical Preview of Windows 10, which is available to anyone for free.
The Technical Preview is an extremely early version of the new OS. It offers limited features but developers are encouraged to try the OS and recommend any changes. Microsoft seems to genuinely want developers to provide feedback on their new OS – which could make Windows 10 the largest crowdsourcing project in history.
According to at least one early review, Windows 10’s Technical Preview is “incredible…empowering…amazing.” Notable features in the Technical Preview include customizable Start Menus, virtual desktops, new “snap” window functionality and extensive search functionality (with full Bing integration).